Going into Friday’s World Cup draw, Gareth Southgate believes England can win the tournament – but admits it needs to be “near perfect” to triumph in Qatar.
Confidence, experience and faith have grown in the Three Lions squad thanks to reaching the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup and reaching the final of Euro 2020 last summer.
Southgate accepts his team are “there to be shot at” but that they have the right to evaluate their chances.
He said: “We said to the team this week, ‘If we can go to a semi-final, we can go to a final and we did it. If we get to the final, we can win. That is clear.
“It’s incredibly difficult and we have to be as perfect as possible.
“That’s the challenge for us, not only when we come to Qatar because we have to be in the right shape beforehand. We have to work on that every day that we’re together.
“We know we’ve had consistent performances over a three, four year period and we’re one of those teams – I think there are some – that could win this tournament.”
We’re definitely respectable and I think we’ll be a team that other teams wouldn’t look forward toEngland manager Gareth Southgate
England are in pot one alongside the other top six nations in the draw plus hosts Qatar.
Dangers lurking in pot two include Holland, Germany and Croatia, while a clash with Scotland or Wales is not out of the question, with those two nations grouped in pot four with Ukraine as a wild card.
Asked how other teams would feel about England, Southgate said: “We’re definitely serious and I think we’re going to be a team that other teams wouldn’t be looking forward to.
“But that’s a double-edged sword because some teams prepare for you differently.
“You’re there to get shot at and they’re going to have a certain way of playing to try and stop you, but some will be a little scared of you and maybe allow you more of the game, so from our standpoint what what really matters is how we feel about it.”
The tournament is the first in the Middle East, which excites the Southgate traveler and while the compact venues make it easier for fans to get around, there are aspects that worry the England boss from a player preparation perspective.
“We have to make sure that you don’t even change hotels the night before the game. So how do you switch the mindset from ‘This is just another day of training’ to that feeling when you go out on the street and think ‘okay, tomorrow is match day, we’re going to another hotel’ because that actually changes the players’ minds “, he said.
“So maybe we need to consider those aspects to make sure it’s not just a long continuity.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/world-cup-2018/fixtures-and-results/gareth-southgate-england-will-have-to-be-close-to-perfect-to-win-world-cup-41509002.html Gareth Southgate: England have to be near perfect to win the World Cup